This Map Shows Where de Blasio Wants to Reduce Parking Mandates

Parking requirements for affordable and senior housing have already been eliminated in the dark grey areas. Under the mayor's plan, they would also be eliminated in a new "transit zone," shown in purple. Map: DCP [PDF]
Under the mayor’s plan, parking requirements would be eliminated for subsidized housing in a new “transit zone,” shown in purple. Map: DCP [PDF]
In February, the Department of City Planning outlined the broad strokes of how the de Blasio administration will seek to change the rules that shape new development in New York. After eight months of public meetings and behind-the-scenes work, City Hall’s proposals were released this week. The documents reveal details of how the city wants to handle parking minimums in new residential buildings, and it looks like incremental progress, not a major breakthrough, for parking reform.

Mandatory parking minimums, which require the construction of a certain amount of car storage in new buildings, have been in the zoning code since 1961. Multiple studies have shown that they drive up the cost of housing and increase traffic. The de Blasio administration is proposing to reduce parking requirements near transit, but primarily for subsidized housing, not the market-rate construction the city expects to account for most new development.

Perhaps the biggest change in the plan, called Zoning for Quality and Affordability, is the creation of a “transit zone” covering most land that allows new multi-family housing within a half-mile of a subway line.

Within the transit zone, off-street parking would not be required for new public housing, senior housing, or apartments reserved for people earning below a certain income. Buildings that include a mix of market-rate and subsidized housing could apply for a special permit to reduce or eliminate parking requirements on a case-by-case basis [PDF].

Existing parking could also be removed: Senior housing will be allowed to take out parking without needing any approvals, but other types of affordable housing would require a special permit to get rid of existing parking.

There are plenty of holes in the transit zone. Most of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights has long been excluded from the map, despite access to the N and R trains. An earlier map included much of the Rockaways, which was later dropped, and sections of Eastchester in the Bronx were also dropped. In Queens, large sections of Woodhaven and Ozone Park are excluded from the transit zone, despite being adjacent to the A and J trains, because zoning in that area is slightly less dense than nearby sections of Brooklyn.

Outside the transit zone, things mostly stay the same. Parking mandates will even remain for most subsidized housing. One change: The required parking ratio for senior housing, which is as high as 35 parking spots for every 100 residences, will be lowered to a flat 10 percent outside the transit zone.

Market-rate units, both inside and outside the transit zone, will see no change to existing parking requirements.

Eliminating parking mandates for affordable and senior housing near transit, where few residents own cars to begin with, is a common-sense step that will enable the construction of more homes. “We have thousands and thousands of low-income seniors on our wait lists for housing,” Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, NYC’s largest low-income senior housing developer, said in a DCP presentation [PDF]. “We do not have a single wait list for parking.”

Images: DCP
By allowing taller ground floors, the city hopes to encourage retail and create more appealing streetscapes. Click to enlarge. Images: DCP

Ideally, parking requirements would simply be eliminated everywhere, but that would require DCP to shift its philosophy and acknowledge that forcing new development to match existing car ownership rates is detrimental to the city.

In addition to changes to parking requirements, the proposal also tweaks other rules, with the goal of improving the streetscape and pedestrian experience:

  • Buildings in most medium- and high-density districts would be allowed up to five additional feet on the ground floor. This extra height makes the ground floor more appealing for retail. Even without shops, it can help make the streetscape more attractive by moving apartments slightly above the sidewalk level.
  • Buildings would be encouraged to include bay windows, courtyards and other features to provide some variety to the streetscape and discourage flat building walls.
  • Buildings would also be encouraged to line up with their neighbors, creating a consistent street wall and a more pleasant walking environment.

DCP also released its East New York plan this week. Manhattan Community Board 4 chair and parking policy watchdog Christine Berthet noticed that the proposal that would no longer allow parking in the front yards of new buildings on most side streets — a small but important change that can keep residential neighborhoods from getting carved up by curb cuts.

In addition to the Zoning for Quality and Affordability and East New York proposals, the city also released its plan for mandatory inclusionary zoning. The proposals now enter the official public review process [PDF], culminating with a City Council vote after approximately six months.

  • BBnet3000

    The Department of City Planning doesn’t know that there’s a subway line in Bay Ridge?

  • Larry Littlefield

    It has been discussed quite a bit, but you are never going to get more acceptance for parking requirement reductions for new buildings without permit parking on the street, with limits on the number granted, and incumbents registered and insured on the date of enactment granted a preferential rate and given first dibs in neighborhoods with a shortage.

    Otherwise, those now parking on the street will see more competition for “their” on street parking.

    The DeBlasio administration is trying to get this through by:

    1) Excluding the politically powerful and NIMBYish areas.

    2) Using the affordable housing angle, to mobilize one power base against another.

    3) Using the fact that developers have changed sides. They used to think parking was necessary and provide it even when they could have played the game and waived (as those in Orthodox areas did). Now the market has changed its mind.

  • AnoNYC

    Pathetic. Does anyone notice the unusual gaps within the .5 mile zone which are not parks? Also, Woodhaven? Literally only the streets facing the rapid transit lines.

  • bolwerk

    What groups are they even pandering to nowadays? Still-aspirational Gen Xers? “Yeah, man, the world took a big dump on me, but one day I’ll have enough bitcoins to buy a car.” Obviously there is still pandering going on.

    I would guess the car-free population has exploded, and it was never insignificant. But then, newcomers are probably least likely to try their hands at “affordable” housing.

  • stairbob

    Yep, de Blasio’s trademark phrase applies here. (“It’s better than nothing!”)

  • Asher Of LA

    “Buildings
    that include a mix of market-rate and subsidized housing could apply
    for a special permit to reduce or eliminate parking requirements on a
    case-by-case basis”

    Standard
    city government shakedown. You can bet that in order for developers to
    build less parking, the city will demand other concessions from the
    developer, so fewer developers will try to build less parking. The city’s saying, “Hey, we know you spend millions on parking. You can build less of it, if you decide to spend those millions instead on keeping my buddies in the permitting office employed, and whatever else we deem appropriate.” I’m honestly curious as to how costly the permitting process and the inevitable concessions will cost.

    I’ve also seen this mentality among affordable housing advocates (e.g. Jeff Schaffer on a panel I saw) – that every dollar you save from relaxing a stupid regulation like parking must be clawed back from the developer and plowed into subsidized housing. So the cost of housing doesn’t get any cheaper for anyone paying market rates (while the subsidized housing is chronically overbooked).

  • anon

    How about instead of parking minimums, all developers must build a school or contribute to the building of a new school in the area where the new buildings are being put up.

  • Asher Of LA

    Bribe the incumbents is one strategy.

    You could also simply bar residents from the new apartments from getting parking permits – or fix the number of parking permits for a building to the number of units it had before it was renovated/rebuilt.

    But all of these strategies require the city to actively do something…

  • Asher Of LA

    You have to offer a ‘savings sharing’ at the very least, if you want your schools to get built. As a developer, a $1 spent on parking helps his bottom line more than a $1 spent on someone else’s amenities.

    Probably allow the developer to keep 50%+ of the savings from not building parking.

  • jooltman

    This zoning plan assumes we are going to have transit to rely on. At the rate our electeds are going, this isn’t a certainty. We need to get MoveNY plan in place, ASAP: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/09/8577423/mta-suggests-it-might-apply-cuts-city-only

  • neroden

    Sounds good. This is one of the few things which the Mayor and City Council can do without taking on the violent, corrupt gang called the NYPD.

  • bolwerk

    Could establish a market for them too. Put an annual fee on them, plus a transfer tax anytime one gets sold.

  • Jason Smollar

    Actually, the plan is just another short-sighted adventure by the current administration. I’m not sure who took the surveys here, but a solid majority of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach residents own cars. This plan will create yet another logistical parking nightmare. Is there a plan to incorporate additional D line subway service since we are in a “transit zone?” Or will we continue the morning stampede of residents into the existing garbage service currently offered? And Bay Ridge gets an exemption? From Shore
    road to 5th Ave, walking to the R train is an easy proposition. Can we be done with Mayor Low Income Housing now please? Thanks.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    You mean free curbside parking. The solution to a shortage of free parking is to charge a market clearing price. Street space is too valuable to give away for free.

    Guessing in The areas you mention a market clearing price for parking might be $2 an hour during the day and $12 to park overnight ( 8pm to 6am )

    People will never need to circle the block wasting gas trying to find a parking space because the freeloaders won’t be hogging spots

  • Joe R.

    I’m personally of the camp which says overnight street parking shouldn’t be allowed at all. You might make a case for market rate parking during the day when people willing to pay would use it for errands and so forth. Overnight parking just serves mainly for car storage. Anyone who wants to own a car should have an off-street place to store it. In fact, Tokyo has exactly such a law in effect. Even better would be to eliminate minimum parking mandates while also banning overnight curbside parking. The end result of this would be market rate off-street car storage, likely running into the high three or even four figures per month. This would make car ownership financially prohibitive for some large fraction of households, although that’s not the general idea. The primary purpose is to charge car owners the true cost of using a car in an urban area. If we do that, it will tip the cost versus convenience factor heavily in the other direction.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Joe,

    How Many people in Bensinhurst would Pay $15 to Park from 8pm to 6am ?

    That Works Out to &450 per month.

    I agree that Essentially ZERO street space especially on reaidental streets should be devoted to curbside Parking. Shopping streets should primarily have limited very short time zoveš, charged at say a couple of Bucks for 15 minutes and sharply escalating per Minute charge After 15 Minutes maybe rising to $20 every 15 minutes after an hour.

    But we aren’t quite there yet, so my solution offers a transition period for people to get used to the radical notion that curbside parking has a cost.

  • Jonathan R

    I love this idea, but the concern I have on the policy level is this: what is the alternate use for the curbside lane? And where does the revenue go? Now homeowners will complain that they are less safe because the wider streetbed will enable speeding drivers. And asking people to pay more in taxes and fees for the same level of service is a political death wish. What is the alternate use?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    great question. On residential streets the open space can be used as playspace for neighborhood kids exactly like these streets were traditionally used for generations until streets were given 100% over to death machines. extensive traffic calming measures of course for 20 MPH.

    On shopping streets, open space for loading zones, protected bike lanes, and expanded pedestrian zones.

    Where does money go ? Donald Shoup says take money for parking fees and pay back to area. I’d suggest that funds generated via these fees go to local traffic calming and conplete streets plus typical street beatification projects.

  • AnoNYC

    “Buildings would also be encouraged to line up with their neighbors, creating a consistent street wall and a more pleasant walking environment.”

    About time. I hate oddly set back buildings.

    It’s really too bad that this proposal is so limited. It should include ALL structures within transit zones, existing or potentially. Additionally, parking reform in the form of residential permits and appropriately priced variable metering should have been introduced to further discourage automobile ownership.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Joe,

    until 1952 it was illegal to store a car overnighy on a NY street.

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